Challenges and Opportunities of Multimodality and Data Fusion in Remote Sensing

M. Dalla Mura, S. Prasad, F. Pacifici, P. Gamba, J. Chanussot, J. A. Benediktsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


Remote sensing is one of the most common ways to extract relevant information about Earth and our environment. Remote sensing acquisitions can be done by both active (synthetic aperture radar, LiDAR) and passive (optical and thermal range, multispectral and hyperspectral) devices. According to the sensor, a variety of information about the Earth's surface can be obtained. The data acquired by these sensors can provide information about the structure (optical, synthetic aperture radar), elevation (LiDAR), and material content (multispectral and hyperspectral) of the objects in the image. Once considered together their complementarity can be helpful for characterizing land use (urban analysis, precision agriculture), damage detection (e.g., in natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, oil spills in seas), and give insights to potential exploitation of resources (oil fields, minerals). In addition, repeated acquisitions of a scene at different times allows one to monitor natural resources and environmental variables (vegetation phenology, snow cover), anthropological effects (urban sprawl, deforestation), climate changes (desertification, coastal erosion), among others. In this paper, we sketch the current opportunities and challenges related to the exploitation of multimodal data for Earth observation. This is done by leveraging the outcomes of the data fusion contests, organized by the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society since 2006. We will report on the outcomes of these contests, presenting the multimodal sets of data made available to the community each year, the targeted applications, and an analysis of the submitted methods and results: How was multimodality considered and integrated in the processing chain? What were the improvements/new opportunities offered by the fusion? What were the objectives to be addressed and the reported solutions? And from this, what will be the next challenges?

Original languageEnglish
Article number7194740
Pages (from-to)1585-1601
Number of pages17
JournalProceedings of the IEEE
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 IEEE.

Other keywords

  • Change detection (CD)
  • classification
  • data fusion (DF)
  • pansharpening
  • remote sensing


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